Burrard Toastmasters
Vancouver's leading business-oriented public speaking club
Club Speeches

History of Toastmasters

The first club was formed more than 75 years ago in October 1924 in the basement of the Santa Ana, California YMCA; the club was for men only and took the name "Toastmasters". Led by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, the club's mandate was "to afford practice and training the art of public speaking and presiding over meetings and to promote sociability and good fellowship among its members".

The second club was started a year later (1925) in Anaheim, followed by a third club in Los Angeles. Five years later, in 1930, it was clear that a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of clubs and to provide standard methods. After a club in Victoria, BC was formed, the group became known as "Toastmasters International".

Growth was slow at the beginning but the number of clubs increases steadily. Membership in Toastmasters International increased rapidly after World War II and by 1954 the number of clubs approached 1,500.

Gavel Club was formed in 1958 for groups wanting Toastmasters training but not qualified for Toastmasters membership. These clubs provided communication and leadership training in correctional institutions, hospitals and schools.

In 1966, the Youth Leadership Program for young people in junior and senior high school was set up.

29 years ago, in 1973, club membership was opened to women.

Now there are over 21 clubs in BC alone. Worldwide, in over 50 countries, there are more than 8,000 clubs.